May 7, 2013 § 12 Comments
Guess what? I wrote a book. No, seriously. I’m not kidding.
Co-wrote it, actually, with a dear friend of mine who is a lawyer. He had this wacky idea that it might be fun to create a gift book for other lawyers, a collection of funny poems capturing some of the inside humor that goes along with the job: all the anxieties, crazy characters, and bizarre situations that only fellow lawyers (and those who know and love them) can really appreciate. He pitched the idea almost two years ago: If he could come up with the poem ideas, could I help write them?
Write a book of poems and let someone else do the work of coming up with all the ideas? Oh, hell yes.
So I’m delighted to introduce you to Poetic Justice: Legal Humor in Verse.
It’s a little bitty book – just 100 pages, each poem a snapshot of some scenario or character or feeling that anyone who’s been to law school or worked in the field will understand. Those who have already read it say it puts into words some of the things everyone thinks but no one says out loud, including some of the darker, cynical stuff, but in a funny way.
(By the way, if you’re lawyer who was once a liberal arts major or an English nerd, you’ll appreciate that these are, well, “real” poems. I mean, they’re not just broken up sentences without punctuation. We got your sonnets, haikus, riffs on well-known verses you probably had to memorize in 10th grade, the whole shebang.)
Need a gift for law school graduation, lawyer friends, mother’s day, father’s day, birthdays? Here you go, easy – just throw it in your cart on Amazon.
Bonus: We are donating a portion of all book proceeds to a fantastic nonprofit called WomensLaw.org, which provides free information and services to individuals getting out of domestic violence situations. So you’re helping to enable something good in the world when you buy the book.
To check out a different sample poem each week — and to see my co-author wearing a sweater vest — visit the book’s site: PoeticJusticeTheBook.com
November 6, 2012 § 13 Comments
Let’s PLEASE talk about something other than the election while we wait in line to vote, shall we? Here — I’ll just make up a topic:
I’ve always sort of wanted to be a songwriter. (I don’t mean I tried and tried to be one; I mean I always thought it would be fun but never really did anything about it. Lazy.) Nothing’s stopping me, I guess, other than everyday obstacles like having my hands full already with regular writing work and, well, life in general. Every now and then a little snippet of a lyric will come to me, but I have no idea what to do with it or how to set it to music or to whom I’d send it… Just more obstacles I’ve never taken the time to figure out. Oh well.
Anyway. I’ve been wallowing happily in the great songwriting of others lately and thought I’d share a few faves today, just so we can talk about ANYTHING ELSE for a few minutes. Turn your phone speaker up for the folks in line with you; open up your iTunes; and get your downloading thumb ready.
* * *
That Justin Bieber is a household name and Will Hoge is not is a travesty of cultural justice that deeply offends my soul and my mind and my… my face. I just don’t understand the world. Even if you’ve never heard of him, you may have heard one of his songs, “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” (recorded by the Eli Young Band, nominated for CMA Song of the Year):
“Way back on a radio dial
A fire got lit inside a bright-eyed child
Every note just wrapped around his soul
From steel guitar to Memphis all the way to rock and roll
I can hear ‘em playing
I can hear the ringing of a beat up old guitar
I can hear ‘em saying,
Keep on dreaming even if it breaks your heart”
Here – listen to him sing it:
The first time I heard Will Hoge play live was in 2004. I’m glad he keeps on dreaming (even if it breaks his heart), because he keeps on writing great music. Do yourself a favor and download a bunch of his albums, starting with early ones like Blackbird on a Lonely Wire, and enjoy the catchy deliciousness of songs like “Better Off Now That You’re Gone” (soon to be released as a recording by Lady Antebellum, by the way).
Man, I am being bossy today. Listen to this… Download that… Geez. Anyway. Do what I say.
* * *
As you know, I like to imagine that Brandi and I are good friends. So you can understand how delighted I was to catch a last-minute show over the weekend when she decided to stop into a local bar where she used to play when she was just starting out. This was a small, intimate show, and she took requests from the crowd. I asked for “The Story” (and then clamped my hand over my mouth to prevent yelling out, “LET’S BE SONGWRITING PALS AND GET MATCHING TATTOOS OF LITTLE PENCILS WITH HAPPY FACES!”):
“All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I’ve been
And how I got to where I am
But these stories don’t mean anything
When you’ve got no one to tell them to
It’s true… I was made for you”
She also sang “Keep Your Heart Young,” a new one that’s a favorite at my house. I play it on the guitar, and my kids sing it while shaking their tic-tac boxes.
“My grandpa gave me a wee penny and I kept it in my pocket
Had big plans in my backyard to build me a space rocket
Talked to my brother on a fake CB that I made from a tic-tac box
Packed my snowballs nice and tight and in the middle I put rocks
Don’t trade in your tic-tac box for a ball on the end of the chain
And don’t go spending grandpa’s pennies buying into the game
You gotta keep your heart young
Don’t go growin’ old before your time has come
You can’t take back what you have done
You gotta keep your heart young”
* * *
Mumford and Sons
“Lover of the Light” is a song I’ve adored since they started playing it live a couple of years ago, and now it’s on their new album:
“In the middle of the night
I may watch you go.
There’ll be no value in the strength
Of walls that I’ll have grown
There’ll be no comfort in the shade of the shadows thrown
But I’d be yours if you’d be mine
Stretch out my life and pick the seams out
Take what you like but close my ears and eyes
Or watch me stumble over and over
I had done wrong, you built your tower,
But call me home and I will build a throne
And wash my eyes out never again
But love the one you hold
And I will be your gold
To have and to hold
A lover of the light”
Here’s the new video for it. Allow me to boss you around: Watch it.
Holy shit. This guy. (Idris Elba, the actor in the video, also directed it, btw.) When he rubs his cane between his thumb and fingers, then hangs it back up… In his dreams, he’s like that buck (moose? whatever it is): independent, free, able to find his way. And damn if he doesn’t go out there into the wild and give it a go.
Now there’s someone who’s not afraid to conquer some obstacles and try something new.
April 16, 2012 § Leave a Comment
My college is giving away free interns. Here’s the email I got:
“We are actively looking for alumni, families and friends who can highlight meaningful internship opportunities that would help our students explore their options and prepare for life after college.”
I’m going to sign up to see if they’ll send me one.
I realize having an intern is a serious responsibility that entails more than just slapping high-fives and singing the college fight song. So I’m working on an official job description. I got sidetracked, though, because I got another email shortly thereafter – this one from AN ACTUAL STUDENT wanting to ask some questions about my work situation.
Is this really happening? I always figured my name wasn’t in the big alumni book at the careers office, because I never got any calls. I guess they were always calling the bankers and lawyers and dentists before; but now that the economy has died a thousand deaths, they’re deciding what the hell, let’s follow our dreams.
Anyway, in case this gets to be a regular thing, I jotted down my answers to use next time. So here you have it:
Q&A on Freelance Careers
Q: Can you make any money working freelance?
A: Sure you can. Do some market research and decide on a reasonable fee structure, and set up a billing agreement with your clients in advance. That saves you from having to hound people for payment later. Personally, I hate bill-collecting, and I’m bad at it. I always try to use that saying about the cow and getting the milk for free, which for the life of me, I *cannot* get right (“Hey, I don’t mean to bother you, but you know, if you get the cow for free you need to pay the milk…”) and which I always remember right after I say it is actually about sex, not freelance fees.
You can also lose money in this job. I lose money all the time. And by that I mean I lose the actual money. A client sends me a check, and I leave it on the front seat and get on the highway with the window down, and it flies out. Or I put it in my bag, and an Altoid gets loose and eats a hole through the middle of it, and then the uptight skags at the bank won’t let me deposit it. Don’t lose your money.
Q: What are the best and worst freelance jobs?
A: The most enjoyable projects, in my opinion, are the ones that come with clear expectations and have a little challenge to them – like this:
“I need a four-and-a-quarter-minute-long rehearsal dinner toast that rhymes and makes allusions to Paradise Lost and has a section in the middle where I can break into song and dance – but that part has to seem really natural and spontaneous – and which has no ‘s’ sounds at all because I’m thenthitive about my lithp, and which also makes frequent, subtle digs at my cousin-in-law – just enough so that everyone gets what I’m saying, but vague enough that I could totally deny it if he calls me out for being a dick.” Got it.
The not-so-great ones come in around 9 p.m. with instructions like this:
“Here’s half of a thing someone on my staff wrote right before I fired him. I don’t know what it’s about or where you can find any other information on it. Could you polish it up and add all the details and put it in whatever format you think is best? It needs to work as either a billboard or a half-hour keynote speech, and it’s absolutely due at 8 a.m. tomorrow.”
Q: What’s a typical workday like?
A: I’m a writer, but I’m guessing the freelance workday is pretty similar across the board, whether you’re a graphic artist or a web designer or whatever. Maybe not for freelance assassins; they probably do more travel. Anyway, I think it goes like this for most everyone:
- Make coffee
- Check Facebook and email
- Refill coffee
- See what everyone’s listening to on Spotify, maybe play a couple minutes of air-banjo
- Put hand in front of elderly dog’s nose to verify breathing and make sure today’s not the day
- Stare out window and think
- Begin working and proceed for a couple of hours, with copious pauses to repeat steps #2-6
The most important step to this entire process is #6. If you don’t have a window, staring at a wall will do. A mirror will not work, because then it becomes really hard to resist making faces and doing impressions; and if you aren’t making any headway on the day’s assignment, Robert De Niro certainly isn’t going to do any better.
Q: Where do freelancers do their work?
A: Often at Starbucks, which is OK, but not ideal unless you can concentrate with The Shins and Leonard Cohen blasting over the sound of the guy at the table four inches away from yours talking into his Bluetooth and doing whatever it is he does that requires six Apple products at once. Not to be all Virginia Woolf about it, but freelancers need space of their own. For example, I work in my basement. In addition to a beautifully decorated little corner, it has a closet containing rodent traps and yard tools and a broken water heater and some bottles of a foul-smelling liquid that I can’t really be sure of because the labels have rotted off; a shower; and a small piano. I have a scenic view of a puking gutter.
So that’s that. Now I’m back to figuring out the intern’s job description. So far all I have is: Copy my manifesto on the one-space-after-a-period rule onto individual scrolls, in calligraphy, by hand. I’m working on coming up with more.